The Magazine

FP Looks Back

Archival passages from writers such as Hillary Clinton, Kofi Annan, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and more show where we’ve been—and where we’re heading.

excerpts from FP archives
excerpts from FP archives

50th Anniversary

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On Anniversaries

FALL 1980 | 10 YEARS

Intellectual Insecurity

Although successive editors have reiterated Foreign Policy’s commitment—stated in its first issue—to publish writers at all points on the political spectrum, it is symptomatic of a larger national insecurity that the magazine has at times been under attack for allowing certain views into print. This insecurity, both cultural and intellectual, reflects significant shifts in the global distribution of power, shifts that did not benefit the United States.

—Charles William Maynes and Richard H. Ullman

FALL 1990 | 20 YEARS

America Turns Inward

In 1970, national divisions over the Vietnam War were at their peak, and the main goal of any sensible U.S. foreign policy was to end that war before the damage to America’s image and stability became irreversible. Today, the task of U.S. foreign policy is not extricating the country from a disastrous war but institutionalizing the unexpected peace that has broken out between the United States and the Soviet Union.

—Charles William Maynes


Bad Ideas

There is no inexorable evolutionary march that replaces our bad, old ideas with smart, new ones. If anything, the story of the last few decades of international relations can just as easily be read as the maddening persistence of dubious thinking.

—Stephen M. Walt

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On American Decline

FALL 1975

Early Disarray

The postwar international economic system, grounded in the American principles of economic liberalism and dependent on the special roles played by this country in several different dimensions, appears to be in disarray.

—Marina von Neumann Whitman


The Case for Hegemony

The truth is that the benevolent hegemony exercised by the United States is good for a vast portion of the world’s population. It is certainly a better international arrangement than all realistic alternatives.

—Robert Kagan


Crash Out

The real question is not whether U.S. hegemony is waning but whether the United States can devise a way to descend gracefully, with minimum damage to the world, and to itself.

—Immanuel Wallerstein


Build Back

Our capacity to come back stronger is unmatched in modern history. It flows from our model of free democracy and free enterprise, a model that remains the most powerful source of prosperity and progress known to humankind.

—Hillary Clinton

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On Nationalism


Expansive Threat

The end of the Cold War is not a panacea. Dangers lie ahead. An explosive mixture of nationalism and internationalism most seriously threatens history’s recent gains.

—Kim Dae-jung


National Appeal

It is much easier to mobilize society behind a real or imagined national injury than behind abstract ideas like democracy or open society.

—George Soros


Anti-American Wave

When American nationalism drives the country’s foreign policy, it galvanizes broad-based anti-Americanism. And at such times, it becomes impossible to ignore the inconsistencies and tensions with American nationalism—or the harm they inflict on the United States’ legitimacy abroad.

—Minxin Pei


The Case for Nationalism

Scholars can persist in looking down on nationalism as a backward, unevolved reflex, and governments could continue to fail to develop policies that harness its potential. But this alternative carries a heavy cost. If responsible policymakers have in their hands something proven to encourage increased wealth, lower levels of corruption, and higher obedience to the rule of law, they would only be wise to use it.

—Gustavo de las Casas

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On Inequality


Grim Statistics

Development is not an issue of the past. More than 1 billion people live in absolute poverty, literally on the brink of starvation. The gap between rich and poor is widening, within as well as among countries.

—Boutros Boutros-Ghali


Progress and Poverty

Ironically, inequality is growing at a time when the triumph of democracy and open markets was supposed to usher in a new age of freedom and opportunity. In fact, both developments seem to be having the opposite effect.

—Nancy Birdsall


Dignity and Anger

The root cause of poverty is social injustice and the bad government that abets it. In such circumstances, poverty is an assault against human dignity, and in that assault lies the natural seed of human anger.

—Colin Powell


How Poverty Works

The story of hunger, and of poverty more broadly, is far more complex than any one statistic or grand theory; it is a world where those without enough to eat may save up to buy a TV instead and where making rice cheaper can sometimes even lead people to buy less rice.

—Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On the Environment

WINTER 1972-73

Climate Change and Security

There has been a growth of concern in the developed world with problems of the environment and of the sheer survival of human life on the planet. Whether or not any of the dire predictions about threats to the environment is valid is less important for this discussion than the fact that these threats are seen very much in terms of security—i.e., as threats to a broader definition of peace.

—Robert E. Hunter


Political Will

The means are available to save many species. The funding could be made available if it were given the priority accorded to food, energy, and pollution. The missing element is political will. If nothing is done before the problem becomes all too apparent, the process of mass extinction may have generated too much momentum to be halted.

—Norman Myers


Climate Crime

According to Interpol, emissions trading is the fastest-growing commodities market in the world, and criminals have eagerly exploited weaknesses and gaps in that market’s regulations and security—reaping tens of millions of dollars in illegal profits and threatening to destroy the much lauded environmental concept of “cap and trade” as they go.

—McKenzie Funk

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On New Presidents


Nixon’s Challenge

In large part, the Nixon Doctrine is an attempt to respond both to changed international as well as domestic conditions. Its object is to preserve as well as give some new meaning to America’s continued involvement in the world.

—Zbigniew Brzezinski


Reagan’s Rhetoric

President Ronald Reagan is fond of calling America a “city upon a hill.” But the Puritan leader John Winthrop, who first uttered those words in the 17th century, intended them as a warning about the importance of adhering to the values that eventually shaped America’s founding and development.

—Cyrus R. Vance


Clinton’s World

If President Bill Clinton serves a full two terms, his decisions will influence the course of world demography for a long time. The quality of American leadership will be key to determining when and at what level world population can be stabilized.

—Sharon L. Camp


Obama’s Continuity

My hunch, and my hope, is that Obama will be a successful president, not because he’ll totally change the foreign policy he’ll inherit from Bush but because he’ll largely continue it.

—Christian Brose

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On Asia


The Long War

The conflict between North and South Korea has remained virtually unchanged since the end of the Korean War, despite important shifts in global and regional power alignments. The United States has contributed to this stalemate in Korea by maintaining an essentially immobile Korean policy.

—Gareth Porter


Japan Can’t Go Its Own Way

Today, Japan is no longer an obedient follower of the United States. Japan cannot remain in that comfortable role even if it dearly wishes to do so.

—Kan Ito


China Is No Threat Without Military Might

U.S. power may recede gradually in the coming years, and the unavoidable decline in Japan’s influence will heighten the sense of China’s regional preeminence. But to have a real collision, China needs a military that is capable of going toe-to-toe with the United States.

—Zbigniew Brzezinski


China’s Rise Foretells a Potential War

China cannot rise peacefully, and if it continues its dramatic economic growth over the next few decades, the United States and China are likely to engage in an intense security competition with considerable potential for war.

—John J. Mearsheimer

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On Democracy


No End

The global expansion of democracy does not mean that we are at the end of history but rather that we have reached a critical turning point in history.

—Larry Diamond

FALL 1997

Democratic Decline

If people believe that government is incompetent and cannot be trusted, they are less likely to provide such crucial contributions as tax dollars and voluntary compliance with laws, and bright young people will not be willing to go into government.

—Joseph S. Nye Jr.


Out of Many, One

While at the United Nations, I used to joke that managing the global institution was like trying to run a business with 184 chief executive officers—each with a different language, a distinct set of priorities, and an unemployed brother-in-law seeking a paycheck.

—Madeleine K. Albright


State of the State

The nation-state is not exactly working out as well as it may appear. The question becomes: How can human beings organize themselves? It is our nature to cluster together in groups. How can we undertake that project in a way that is in some sense affirming to human life, rather than the opposite?

—Taiye Selasi

From the Foreign Policy Archives

On Technology


Networked World

Mention of the internet brings to mind thoughts of cool technology, expanding markets, and pitched battles between high-tech companies. Missing from the picture are the huge implications for foreign policy. A driving force behind the foreign-policy debate is the emergence of the networked economy—an economy in which computing and communications converge to create an electronic marketplace that is utterly dependent on powerful information networks.

—Daniel F. Burton Jr.



In our collective enthusiasm for whiz-bang new social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, the implications of this next television age—from lower birthrates among poor women to decreased corruption to higher school enrollment rates—have largely gone overlooked despite their much more sweeping impact.

—Charles Kenny


Disrupt and Converge

These days, the trendy word “disruption” casts fear into many business leaders’ hearts. As the internet has reordered commerce with startling speed, mighty companies have found themselves upstaged by tech newcomers. As this revolution gathers pace, however, there is a second word that deserves more attention: “convergence.”

—Gillian Tett

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